Junk Food Daily: Drake’s is Back

As a kid, my mom was the culprit when it came to bringing sweet things or junk foods into the house.  She had a sweet tooth for something chocolately after eating, and often our house had Drake’s Yodels, Devil Dogs, or Ring Dings.

I still fondly recall how the cakes used to be individually wrapped in foil, and often around the holidays the foil would be different colors.  We would often roll up this foil and our cat would bat it around as a plaything and we’d find foil balls under pieces of furniture months later.

So certainly these snack cakes were nostalgic and a polysorbate-filled helping of comfort food.  I have seen the packaging change for the cakes, from foil to being shrinkwrapped, and the included cardboard tray being removed.  I also took note how the cakes bought at a convenience store in an individual serving, looked and tasted different than the ones that came in a boxful from the grocery store.

The company has changed owners several times since it’s pound cake days in Brooklyn in 1888.  In addition to pound cake and coffee cake, the other varieties are 50-90 years old and have been family favorites to folks along the Northeast for decades.

For the most part, the flavor was somewhat consistent, until Hostess oversaw the company in 2009.  The recipes changed and the company’s corporate debt was a big factor in product quality as the ingredients used changed no doubt.

In April 2013, McKee Foods took over the brand and on September 23’rd Yodels, Devil Dogs, Ring Dings, and Coffee Cakes made their way back onto store shelves in the Northeast.

For the time being the peanut butter based “Funny Bones” cakes are no longer available due to  the need to manufacture this product separately.

Upon discovering the slight packaging change which made me notice the holding company had changed to McKee, I decided to give them a try and was glad to find that Yodels tasted much better than the days while Hostess owned them.  Also, the cardboard tray liner was back!  So the chocolate enrobement that surrounds the cake would keep from cracking.  Now if they’d only get the foil packaging back, I’d be inclined to get a cat again…

Singer Mary Lambert with Berklee professor and performer, Caroline Harvey.

Concert Review: Mary Lambert Wows Berklee’s David Friend Recital Hall

Seattle poet and musician Mary Lambert gave an intimate performance Saturday night to Boston’s Berklee School of Music.

The David Friend Recital Hall located on Boylston St. served as the perfect venue to connect Lambert’s soft voice and personal stories to the some 200 attendees, most of which were students of the school.

Lambert was joined on stage with fellow poet and Berklee professor Caroline Harvey @thetinyrhino, who also performed poems dealing with female body image, love, rape, and sexuality.

Throughout the 90 minute set, comprised of material from Lambert’s EP “Letters Don’t Talk”, new material written within the past 48 hours, and a cover of Wheatus’ “Teenage Dirtbag”, Lambert spoke of her exciting new found fame as the lead female voice on the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis single “Same Love” which peaked at #11 in the Billboard Top 100.

Lambert wrote the chorus to “Same Love” and later expanded the verse to create her latest single “She Keeps Me Warm”.  Both songs express same-sex companionship, while Macklemore’s lyrics directly extol the rights of same-sex couples including that of marriage equality.  What makes Macklemore’s version so profound is that he is a heterosexual rap artist, and has found such favor and support with “Same Love” among his audience and top 40 radio in general.

In between songs, Ms. Lambert also told stories.  One recent event related to her performance on the MTV VIdeo Music Awards, where she returned to her seat only to find it occupied by another person.  In a feeble attempt to intimidate Mary, the gentleman refused to give up the seat and it was cast members of GLEE that stood up to the seat stealer and led him to flee!

The show consisted of Mary alone on stage with a beautiful sounding Steinway piano, which she gently played as she cooed heartfelt and often painful emotive lyrics, telling of pride in one’s body, character sketches of people whom she’s met, and the light and dark sides of love.  A highlight of the show was an electronic looping effect added to her voice and to the percussive noises and choruses sung, which created a layered effect as Mary continued to sing over the lush tones.

Following the show was a brief Q&A session with Caroline Harvey, who reiterated Lambert’s dedication to poetry and performance prose, in addition to her musicianship.  Audience members were invited to ask questions, one of which was “When you win your Grammy, or Oscar or Emmy because let’s face it, you have that potential, who will you thank?”.  Lambert paused and said in addition to thanking her mother, she would definitely thank public relations and management because “those people rock!”.

Mary graciously met with audience members after the show for a quick photo, a hug, and sincerely thanked them for attending the night’s show.  Copies of Caroline’s CD “Bird Wing or Bone Marrow” were available for purchase in addition to a book of poetry by Lambert.  Those in attendance were wearing smiles and seemed full of gratitude to witness such a remarkable event by an up-and-coming artist.

Does Anyone Remember Cash?

I recently stopped at a local Cumberland Farms store @cumberlandfarms to get my staple: a one dollar iced coffee.

Prior to walking in the store, I grabbed some pennies out of my cupholder, in anticipation of the total price with tax I was prepared to pay.

I’m an expert at this.  I grab my cup, pour in about 3/4″ of “white death” and then splash in some hot coffee (robust blend) to dissolve the sugar.  As I swirl it around, I add in 2 shots of coconut flavor, add the ice, and then go back to the counter to add some cream.  Only then do I put the cold coffee in.  Jam a straw in, muddle it, and put a lid on it.  Voila!  Instant refreshment.

As I’m standing in line waiting to pay behind several folks buying excessive amounts of lottery tickets, I notice an overwhelming display of gift cards on a rotating rack.  I’m staring at and counting the different brands and cards, noticing some of these brands aren’t even in this area.  Movie theaters such as AMC and Regal, along with restaurants like The Cheesecake Factory or The Melting Pot, are not within 90 minutes of this area.

I then notice all the prepaid Visa cards, like Green Dot http://www.greendot.com, MoneyPak http://www.moneypak.com and American Express http://www.americanexpress.com/prepaid.  Different packaging for what appears to be variations of the same thing adds to my confusion.  “Bill Pay”, “PayPal”, “Reloadable” are just some of the packaging choices.  If for whatever reason you can’t get or do not want a credit card, and a debit card does not fit your needs, the reasons behind giving cash to another party to make money off the interest, and, charge you fees to use this card, are beyond me.  If you want to give a cash gift to a grad, give them cash!  If you need to pay a bill, and do not have a checking account and can’t bother with a money order, I do not see how these products are useful.

I sadly started to ponder the reasons.  Perhaps someone has wages garnished or is avoiding paying child support, and these products just help them hide their monies.  I started to feel shameful and embarrassed over these products and the circumstances that drive people to use them, and after paying my dollar and 6 pennies, just slurped on my iced coffee and left.  As the caffeine surged through me as I drove away, I could only make a wish upon my sweet treat that others see the banality in all this e-commerce and just return to sending a letter or a card with some cash stashed away in it, like Grandma would’ve done!

You see?

Daunting, but I’m standing in it.  Like a puddle.  Here I am for all the world to see!

On the lip of technology by-passing my own personal comfort level?  Perhaps.  I used to be so gung-ho about learning about new tech and being the first kid on the block for things.  Now, getting older, it’s faster than even my own ADD brain can handle.  Or wants to.

So let’s begin.  Create a blog here and then scroll-scroll-scroll through the themes.  Think about what to talk about.  How to organize it.  What side of myself to reveal…or not!  Just how will casual chat and txt-ing differ from the flavour of a blog?  We shall see.  Stay tuned.

– C